Elon Musk, Founder and Chief Engineer of SpaceX, speaks in the course of the Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, DC, United States on March 9, 2020.
Yasin Ozturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
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Barring a messy, last-minute divorce, Elon Musk is on observe to personal Twitter (and sure, mea culpa). The mercurial, sensible entrepreneur offloaded round $8.5 billion of Tesla inventory this week as he ready to pay for his $44 billion aspect challenge. And quickly, he’ll be free to vary the service as he pleases.
Musk hasn’t but offered a complete plan for Twitter — he could by no means — however he is proposed a number of important adjustments price evaluating. Musk’s concepts embrace lengthening character limits, open sourcing the algorithm, and successfully placing an finish to content material moderation. A debate is raging concerning the latter, however all have tradeoffs.
Alex Roetter, Twitter’s former head of engineering, joined Big Technology Podcast this week to debate Musk’s proposals, inspecting each their feasibility and advisability. Here’s a take a look at probably the most important potential adjustments, alongside together with his commentary:
Authenticating all people
Upon announcing the deal, Musk said he wanted to “authenticate all humans.” Twitter has long weighed this idea internally, wondering whether making people confirm their email or phone number could help reduce harassment and spam. The company never acted, perhaps because authentication could drop its user numbers and anger Wall Street. But it should’ve.
Pure anonymity, Roetter said, “fosters the worst parts of speech online.” So he loves Musk’s authentication idea. As a private company, Twitter could afford to take a user number hit, a benefit of Musk’s ownership.
This idea is feasible and advisable.
Musk hates the spambots. “We will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” he said final week.
Roetter likes this concept, nevertheless it’s not that straightforward. To defeat the spambots, he stated, you’d construct a classifier that appears for traits of bots after which bans them. You’d then tune the classifier to both be actually aggressive, the place you’d eradicate bots but in addition ban a bunch of human “false positives,” or be much less aggressive, the place you’d let some bots slide and ban fewer people.
“I think you should do it,’ Roetter said. “But everybody must be ready, there is no such thing as a excellent spam bot classifier.”
This idea is feasible, though not perfect, and advisable.
Allowing for free speech is core to Musk’s Twitter takeover. “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital city sq.,” he said.
There may be technical challenges to Musk’s vision, including how that victory against spambots could ensnare human speech as well, said Roetter. “I actually do not suppose there’s a solution that is going to make everyone pleased,” he said. Still, Musk could relax the current moderation rules and see how things play out.
This move is somewhat feasible and its advisability is TBD.
Musk is interested in Twitter’s subscription product and could expand it. Making people pay for Twitter — or certain premium features — could help reduce spam and create a revenue stream if Twitter’s advertisers bail over its new speech rules.
“It’s a extremely fascinating concept,” Roetter said. “If you don’t need a bunch of what you consider as low-value exercise to occur, when you cost greater than the worth that you simply suppose persons are extracting from it, it ought to go away.” Subscription fees could be normalized and scaled per location.
This idea is feasible and advisable if implemented right.
To build trust in Twitter, Musk wants to open-source its algorithms.
“This one is a head-scratcher to me,” Roetter said. The algorithms themselves, he said, won’t tell you very much. To figure out what to show you, Twitter’s ranking algorithms essentially look at billions of examples of content, try to predict how you’ll react to tweets and ads, and then use those scores to optimize what to show you. “It would not say, if you’re Republican, then you definitely’re banned,” Roetter said. “There’s simply nothing like that.”
Open sourcing the algorithms is feasible and perhaps advisable, but only to dispel the conspiracy theories.
Musk has mused about adding an edit button and allowing lengthier tweets. Both ideas are technically straightforward, though they’ll probably do little for everyday users who can already thread tweets together and delete and resend tweets with typos.
“I do not suppose it’ll change any of the principle issues that everybody is upset about,” Roetter said. “But yeah, positive, why not?”
These ideas are feasible and, well, it’s up to you Elon.